Author Topic: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders  (Read 3801 times)

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Offline Trenacker

Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
« Reply #30 on: January 10, 2017, 11:42:35 PM »
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  • I've never imagined the Gaians as a fascistic police state. For me, they had too much of a hippie vibe. At first, I'd guess they started out a series of farming collectives participating in direct democracy. Possibly they'd consent to direct representation once the number of farms grew to a given size. I could see ;deidre; playing them all like fiddles and successfully encouraging colonists to ostracize those insufficiently committed to group-think, of course. I still think that the feminist angle, which I first came across on the Wordpress "Paean to SMAC" site, was more compelling.

    I concede that game mechanics may say others, but as a practical matter I also struggle to link the concepts of ecologically-friendly settlement and economic efficiency. The Gaians would presumably avoid certain settlement sites and resource nodes and forego using certain types of equipment. On Planetfall, greater efficiencies that could be gained through symbiosis with Planet would still be years -- probably decades, and maybe centuries -- away.

    ;yang; certainly borrows from Mao, but as a creation of fiction, the Hive more accurately resembles North Korean society than it does Chinese, even if we look back to the China of the mid-1990s. Yang is, in my opinion, one of the worst-articulated factions. I've tried to flesh him out elsewhere, engaging with the various doctrinal elements of Chinese Legalism: 法 (Fa), or law, meaning that the law is known, and obeyed because systematically enforced; 術 (Shu), or method, whereby the ruler holds himself apart from society and "special tactics and secrets" to obscure his motivations, reducing the opportunity for confidants to influence him except through their obeisance of the law; and 勢 (Shi), or legitimacy, which focuses on drawing distinctions between the ruler and the man. This agenda is rendered substantially more effective by surveillance and compliance enforcement technologies. It is also problematized by Yang's rejection of a consistent set of ethics. Yang can be played straight as a philosopher-king who attempts to surround himself with loyal, efficacious ministers, or else as a hermit king who is nothing more than a latter-day Pol Pot. As I conceive of the Hive, Yang has also fostered a caste system based on merit, subjecting brighter colonists to indoctrination and guiding them into his bureaucracy.

    I share your dismay at President-elect Trump's success and am pessimistic about the next four years.

    People swallow this guff because, first and foremost, they are afraid. The original fiction was clear in that the faction leaders have uniquely strong personalities that would have greatly appealed to the handful of colonists to wake into a living nightmare. As a practical matter in past simulations, factions have also tended to press colonists with certain skill sets, meaning that every faction includes larger numbers of individuals who range from apathetic to antagonistic. It is also quite probable that a good half of the faction leaders would have liquidated deviants at the earliest opportunity, both to forestall challenges and reduce resource burdens.

    The great thing about Alpha Centauri was that it spoke to a unique period in world history -- the ten or so years between the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the War on Terror. Those years straddled the communications revolution sparked by the advent of the affordable personal computer and the advent of the World Wide Web, as well as the proliferation of cable television networks. It's kind of a time capsule for thinking about what the future looked like when we all seemed to be standing at the End of History.

    "Paean to SMAC" points out that the Peacekeepers and the Conclave (Believers) are, interestingly enough, "backward-looking," in that they try to recapture a way of life that they believe existed in an idealized past, rather than build something out of whole cloth.

    SMAC also doesn't (and can't) go too deep into the purity dynamic of its successor, Beyond Earth. I started to think about how the different factions would view technology (as either enabler or creeping threat to human self-improvement), cybernetics (doorway, abomination, or threat to self-acceptance), and Artificial Intelligence. (On the latter, Dune is instructive.)

    I purposely recast the Spartans as "militarism lite" -- a caste society with an ethos that demands service and sacrifice, but not to the extent that it degenerates into the debauchery and capricious savagery of the Holnists. ;santi; believes that citizens must be built from the ground up. While the Spartans exhault strength, they would tend to find Holnists deficient in their thinking with respect to society as a whole. Spartanism is a project. Holnism is a mood.

    ;zak; gives us the idea of a colony organized as an academic faculty, always in danger of the deadlock of committees, the hardening of protections for researchers who eschew colony-building for "brain work," and a civil war over the role of ethics. It combines the absurdities of the modern American campus, with its bloated support staff, venal administrators, and coddled students, and the horrors of the British public school system, with its tolerance of abuse and love of petty officialdom.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #31 on: January 11, 2017, 05:58:53 AM »
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  • People swallow this guff because, first and foremost, they are afraid. The original fiction was clear in that the faction leaders have uniquely strong personalities that would have greatly appealed to the handful of colonists to wake into a living nightmare.

    I don't buy that.  Space travel is not for the faint of heart.  The Unity was surely not populated by a pile of lazy American consumers, fretting and wringing their hands about the end of the world.  Most of them were probably as tough minded about surviving as the faction leaders themselves.  It may depend on the selection process used to decide who would crew the Unity, but I seriously doubt it would have been one of these "mass public" crewings like some recent sci-fi movies.  One about the world flooding and the Chinese getting these Arks done comes to mind.

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    As a practical matter in past simulations, factions have also tended to press colonists with certain skill sets, meaning that every faction includes larger numbers of individuals who range from apathetic to antagonistic.

    I don't believe in the idea of the apathetic crew member, at all.  In a world holocaust situation such as humanity was experiencing, apathetic people are going to quickly be dead.  They lie down and take the first nuke blast, for instance.  They succumb to plagues.  They don't build bunkers or snipe from the hills.  They become victims because they don't have a will to live.

    Whether the ongoing society in successive generations would promote apathy, is a question of social engineering choices.  Yang certainly promotes buckets of apathy.  Santiago surely does not.  Morganites probably promote blase and cynicism rather than apathy per se; they would be quite motivated by greed.  Academics are not apathetic by definition.  Believer rank and file apathy would depend on the ontologies between religious doctrine and actual observed events.

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    It is also quite probable that a good half of the faction leaders would have liquidated deviants at the earliest opportunity, both to forestall challenges and reduce resource burdens.

    There is no clear metric for whether liquidating talented people helps or hurts a regime.  A leader may get away with it, a leader may not.

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    ;zak; gives us the idea of a colony organized as an academic faculty, always in danger of the deadlock of committees, the hardening of protections for researchers who eschew colony-building for "brain work," and a civil war over the role of ethics. It combines the absurdities of the modern American campus, with its bloated support staff, venal administrators, and coddled students, and the horrors of the British public school system, with its tolerance of abuse and love of petty officialdom.

    That actually doesn't make any sense as a new survival colony.  Nor do the Morganites make any sense, for the same reason.  They both depend on a level of societal infrastructure and scale-up bloat, that simply can't exist for a long time after Planetfall.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #32 on: January 11, 2017, 06:33:03 AM »
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  • "Paean to SMAC" points out that the Peacekeepers and the Conclave (Believers) are, interestingly enough, "backward-looking," in that they try to recapture a way of life that they believe existed in an idealized past, rather than build something out of whole cloth.

    With The Believers, no argument.  You can't be thinking terribly hard, if you put your faith into books that are a few thousand years old, that were written by many people, for multiple purposes.  And then pretending there was some big Plan and accuracy about the whole thing, as opposed to an ongoing cultural process that ultimately arrives at the (still proliferating!) texts we see today.  A litmus of one's ignorance of history, and of indoctrination methods.

    With the UN Peacekeepers, I don't agree.  They are seeking continuity in human notions of decency and law.  To call them backwards, is like calling present day Americans backwards for thinking The First Amendment and other features of the US Constitution are worth something.  Or that the traditions of British Common Law are backwards, even given current understanding of case law.

    In the real world, these processes of law have been working, more or less.  International law isn't worthless.  It's not as much as one might like, but it's worth something.  The problem for the game fiction is, clearly any UN notion of law has ceased to function.  First on Earth, then for the most part on Planet.  That said, a Planetary Council still does work for awhile, modeled after the UN.  I think these game features exist to give the player a toy by which to contemplate international law.  Rather than any deep commentary on the narrative viability of said law.

    The UN Peacekeepers do not believe that humanity needs some great new imagining in order to thrive and survive.  It puts more faith in the human condition as known.

    But... does it work when the human population is small, and cults are going nuts about stuff?  Is tolerance and diversity actually viable, in the limit?  A more recent question would be, do terrorists take advantage and kill you for it?

    Or just crazy people?  The sick parts of society, the evidence of what the society is not dealing with.  For instance we had a known crazy person shoot up a bunch of people in an airport the other day.  The FBI already had a bead on this person's craziness, and did nothing about him.  Slipping through cracks and being surprised is one thing... when we actually know someone is a danger, when it has come to our attention, and we as a society will still do nothing, this is a problem.

    The main difference between a nut job and a dominant culture, is who manages to get an audience.

    Offline Trenacker

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #33 on: January 12, 2017, 02:37:16 AM »
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  • Quote from: bvanevery
    I don't buy that.  Space travel is not for the faint of heart.  The Unity was surely not populated by a pile of lazy American consumers, fretting and wringing their hands about the end of the world.  Most of them were probably as tough minded about surviving as the faction leaders themselves.  It may depend on the selection process used to decide who would crew the Unity, but I seriously doubt it would have been one of these "mass public" crewings like some recent sci-fi movies.  One about the world flooding and the Chinese getting these Arks done comes to mind.

    Take the Unity, for instance. Let’s leave aside the Chiron Interstellar Probe for now, which at least makes a successful planetfall. They’re waking up in pitch black darkness, in a metal canister, half-submerged in liquid. Many of them are choking on poisonous fumes. It’s a struggle to strike the emergency release. They emerge blind, puking, and naked, in the company of strangers. The warning klaxons are blaring, but main systems, including non-emergency lighting, are down.

    Many never wake up. A large number are killed as they attempt to escape, either overcome by the hostile environment or slaughtered by infiltrators and those who are already out of cold sleep. Anybody who survives is conscious that they have no way of knowing what is actually happening, who is in charge, or who they should trust. The ship is dying. The mission is doomed. There is shooting.

    No, The Unity was not populated by lazy American consumers, but the kind of survivor that you described was unlikely to have had the opportunity, much less the wherewithal, to obtain the education that qualifies one to join such a mission. Sure, there would have been intense, years-long training, sequestered from the unfolding apocalypse of Earth’s demise, and yes, it would have included emergency training, but it’s no stretch to believe that many would readily adhere to dominant personalities.

    In my vision, The Unity is partially crewed by personnel selected by the mission’s corporate sponsors, who step in to provide funding (in return for berths) when geopolitical squabbles lead some of the national donors to back out. The training provided would not be up to the original standard – and that’s considering that the entire mission would need to use dated technology, since the ship would have been under construction, and the crew in classrooms and simulations, for something like ten or twenty years (the effects of aging are better-managed). There are also stowaways in the form of the Tribe, as well as the Spartans, who have themselves been infiltrated by Holnists.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    I don't believe in the idea of the apathetic crew member, at all.  In a world holocaust situation such as humanity was experiencing, apathetic people are going to quickly be dead.  They lie down and take the first nuke blast, for instance.  They succumb to plagues.  They don't build bunkers or snipe from the hills.  They become victims because they don't have a will to live.

    The crews disperse into factions only after the missions arrive. In the case of the Chiron Intersteller Probe, which precedes the Unity mission by many years, this atomizing process is gradual, and clear strains of thought do compete, and even flourish, among the colonists, allowing them the luxury of time to choose sides. But Unity fails suddenly, and the faction leaders will have followed a certain common order in who they choose to awaken to join them: (1) loyalists; (2) personnel with skills related to an immediate need, including: soldiers, medical personnel, engineers, and damage control technicians; (3) colonists whose training or functions make it likely that they will sympathize with the way of life proposed by the faction leader. But in all cases, right before the Colony Pods depart, there will be a mad rush to grab anything and everything of value. For factions like Lal’s, Miriam’s, and Santiago’s, that might mean warm bodies. (Santiago can always use peons, after all.) Ergo, some number of survivors will not be sympathetic to the factions to which they become attached.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    There is no clear metric for whether liquidating talented people helps or hurts a regime.  A leader may get away with it, a leader may not.

    Few faction leaders probably worry about this. The temptation to rid themselves of supernumerary mouths and potential upstarts at a time when both their power and resources are severely limited will probably prove too great.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    That actually doesn't make any sense as a new survival colony.  Nor do the Morganites make any sense, for the same reason.  They both depend on a level of societal infrastructure and scale-up bloat, that simply can't exist for a long time after Planetfall.

    Every faction would need to progress through a number of years – probably a number of decades – of what the original game described as “frontier” government, in which there is a kind of consensus mythology about the society they will one day build and a preference to ape that society in style, if not in all things.

    Quote from: banevery
    With The Believers, no argument.  You can't be thinking terribly hard, if you put your faith into books that are a few thousand years old, that were written by many people, for multiple purposes.  And then pretending there was some big Plan and accuracy about the whole thing, as opposed to an ongoing cultural process that ultimately arrives at the (still proliferating!) texts we see today.  A litmus of one's ignorance of history, and of indoctrination methods.

    Miriam’s followers believe that there has been a Second Coming. In the backstory I created, Christian militias played a major role in the dissolution of the United States.

    Quote from: banevery
    With the UN Peacekeepers, I don't agree.  They are seeking continuity in human notions of decency and law.  To call them backwards, is like calling present day Americans backwards for thinking The First Amendment and other features of the US Constitution are worth something.  Or that the traditions of British Common Law are backwards, even given current understanding of case law.

    They are promoting a tradition few of them will actually remember, and rarely in its “pure” form, prior to the various calamities that preceded the Unity mission.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #34 on: January 12, 2017, 04:23:35 PM »
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  • Take the Unity, for instance. Let’s leave aside the Chiron Interstellar Probe for now, which at least makes a successful planetfall. They’re waking up in pitch black darkness, in a metal canister, half-submerged in liquid. Many of them are choking on poisonous fumes. It’s a struggle to strike the emergency release. They emerge blind, puking, and naked, in the company of strangers. The warning klaxons are blaring, but main systems, including non-emergency lighting, are down.

    Many never wake up. A large number are killed as they attempt to escape, either overcome by the hostile environment or slaughtered by infiltrators and those who are already out of cold sleep. Anybody who survives is conscious that they have no way of knowing what is actually happening, who is in charge, or who they should trust. The ship is dying. The mission is doomed. There is shooting.


    The game doesn't portray this level of detail about the Unity breakup.  The opening cutscene of SMAC shows 7 escape pods neatly and simultaneously separating from the Unity.  That's a political agreement, a crisis of unity, not everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  The factions on the ship have agreed that they're going it alone.  Nobody dies on atmosperic entry either.

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    No, The Unity was not populated by lazy American consumers, but the kind of survivor that you described was unlikely to have had the opportunity, much less the wherewithal, to obtain the education that qualifies one to join such a mission. Sure, there would have been intense, years-long training, sequestered from the unfolding apocalypse of Earth’s demise, and yes, it would have included emergency training, but it’s no stretch to believe that many would readily adhere to dominant personalities.


    Aunty Entity: Do you know who I was? Nobody. Except on the day after, I was still alive. This nobody had a chance to be somebody.  - Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

    You don't actually know how anyone is going to respond to the real thing.  There's a TV show on right now about a bunch of civilian goofs who have volunteered for Special Forces training.  They're not going to get any tangible reward from it like a military commission.  They just want to see if they can make it through the training.  Most people can't, and it doesn't matter what they thought of themselves before they tried.  Some people can.  Which ones those are, isn't predictable.  Like quantum physics you know someone will make it though.

    You are positing a model of leadership and obedience that doesn't have to be valid in this scenario at all.  The game makes 7 archetypes because that works for personifying a narrative and having actual gaming opponents.  From a simulationist standpoint, it simply ain't gotta be so.  But who's going to write a 100 survivor zombie apocalypse in space game?  People film that kind of thing for TV because they can get a couple dozen actors to do character bits for the unfolding simulation.

    Quote
    Quote from: bvanevery
    I don't believe in the idea of the apathetic crew member, at all.  In a world holocaust situation such as humanity was experiencing, apathetic people are going to quickly be dead.  They lie down and take the first nuke blast, for instance.  They succumb to plagues.  They don't build bunkers or snipe from the hills.  They become victims because they don't have a will to live.


    The crews disperse into factions only after the missions arrive.


    No, the opening cutscene says, very explicitly, that they factionalize and separate in space.  If anyone else said otherwise, like the novels, they got it wrong.  How can you believe what you just said?  Everyone would have to have crashed at the same landing site.  On Planetfall, Hive minders can't walk across oceans to Morganite luxury complexes.  I've contemplated writing a game where everyone crashes in 1 place, builds a 1st base, then the factional splits happen.  But that's not SMAC.

    Unless you meant to say, "I am writing a fiction where..."

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    Quote from: bvanevery
    There is no clear metric for whether liquidating talented people helps or hurts a regime.  A leader may get away with it, a leader may not.


    Few faction leaders probably worry about this. The temptation to rid themselves of supernumerary mouths and potential upstarts at a time when both their power and resources are severely limited will probably prove too great.


    Sure they won't worry about it.  But it doesn't mean they're going to survive and prosper for having done it.  They may very well cut their nose to spite their face.  Let's say your best biologist has a conscience and you put a pickaxe through her head.  Next thing you know your colony is hit by a plague.  Gee where was your biologist?  You might all be dead.  Similarly if you kill the 1 farmer bright enough to know how to grow the food.  Or the 1 soldier who knows anything about tactical defense and recon.

    Over the long haul of 150 years, this played out in the real life empire of China.  In 1435 the maritime eunuchs were doing a mercantile expansionist thing, like the Europeans did 80 years later.  They sent 400..600 foot treasure boats (claimed; may have been smaller) as far as what's now Mozambique.  But land based agrarian Confucians thought trade was evil and had a civil war with them.  The Confucians won, gutted the navy in the process, and banned trade and travel for 150 years.  The expansionist initative passed irretrievably to the Europeans.  This is the primary reason most of us are not eating more rice.

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    Miriam’s followers believe that there has been a Second Coming.


    What a bunch of rubes!  Usually the promise is it will happen.  Anyone getting sold a river that it did happen, clearly didn't read the Bible as to what the results were supposed to be.

    "It will happen, and it will happen in our lifetimes.  Jesus Power isn't just the future, Jesus Power is now."

    Wow with a fiction like that, you'd have to seriously deal with the issue of apostasy.  That's more denominationally bizarre than what even the Mormons believe.  It would be an interesting fiction though, the process of casting new mythologies for the encountered reality.

    Quote
    Quote from: banevery
    With the UN Peacekeepers, I don't agree.  They are seeking continuity in human notions of decency and law.  To call them backwards, is like calling present day Americans backwards for thinking The First Amendment and other features of the US Constitution are worth something.  Or that the traditions of British Common Law are backwards, even given current understanding of case law.


    They are promoting a tradition few of them will actually remember, and rarely in its “pure” form, prior to the various calamities that preceded the Unity mission.


    Hey I don't remember signing The Declaration of Independence.  I don't remember fighting the US Civil War, but I do check out the battlefields with my dog, 'cuz it's something we can both enjoy.  I don't remember WW II or Auschwitz.  Learning about and supporting events beyond one's lifetime, is not a remarkable human activity.

    « Last Edit: January 12, 2017, 04:58:34 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline Trenacker

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #35 on: January 13, 2017, 12:21:17 AM »
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  • Quote from: bvanevery
    The game doesn't portray this level of detail about the Unity breakup.  The opening cutscene of SMAC shows 7 escape pods neatly and simultaneously separating from the Unity.  That's a political agreement, a crisis of unity, not everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  The factions on the ship have agreed that they're going it alone.  Nobody dies on atmosperic entry either.
    To clarify the origins of some of my comments, I am referring to the basis for a work of what might be called fan fiction. However, the original game was accompanied by a work of fiction as well. That work of fiction described not only a cataclysmic accident that destroyed an entire section of the spacecraft itself, but violence as a result of disagreement regarding how the mission should precede following the malfunction about Unity. In the background to the simulation that I have created, this violence is a great deal worse.

    In my simulation, Unity has a secondary (emergency) bridge as well as a series of compartments where emergency response (primarily fire-fighting and heavy rescue) equipment is stored, not to mention multiple armories. All of these locations become focal points for conflict once the onboard computer wakes the crew. (As I wrote it, a number of designated first responders were brought out of cold sleep immediately along with the mission commander.) These individuals in turn either (A) found it prudent to wake others, or (B) took it upon themselves to wake others after their faith in the existing chain-of-command was diminished. As I stated previously, there are also various stowaways that collectively number in the hundreds, including Spartans and Holnists seeded among the crew, and whole sections of crew whose compartments were abandoned-in-place during construction, then intentionally built over.

    The “neat” separation of the escape pods from the Unity depicted in the opening cut-scene is not indicative of an absence of violence aboard the ship itself.

    The original fiction does indicate that a gentleman’s agreement of sorts was reached followed Captain Garland’s death. In my version, no such agreement is reached; certain factions simply begin to launch small craft as it becomes convenient – sometimes to convey their own people to the surface, and sometimes to deny access to others. In the end, thousands of cargo and colony pods end up in decaying orbits after being “dumped” during the Unity Crisis.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Aunty Entity: Do you know who I was? Nobody. Except on the day after, I was still alive. This nobody had a chance to be somebody.  - Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

    You don't actually know how anyone is going to respond to the real thing.  There's a TV show on right now about a bunch of civilian goofs who have volunteered for Special Forces training.  They're not going to get any tangible reward from it like a military commission.  They just want to see if they can make it through the training.  Most people can't, and it doesn't matter what they thought of themselves before they tried.  Some people can.  Which ones those are, isn't predictable.  Like quantum physics you know someone will make it though.

    You are positing a model of leadership and obedience that doesn't have to be valid in this scenario at all.  The game makes 7 archetypes because that works for personifying a narrative and having actual gaming opponents.  From a simulationist standpoint, it simply ain't gotta be so.  But who's going to write a 100 survivor zombie apocalypse in space game?  People film that kind of thing for TV because they can get a couple dozen actors to do character bits for the unfolding simulation.

    Each player took on the role of a faction leader. We had somewhere around 15 players, as I recall, each at the head of factions of a few hundred or so colonists.

    Think about the breakdown of order that sometimes occurs during civil wars here on Earth. What happens when some members of the crew can find no officers? What happens when they learn that Garland is dead? What happens when people begin to fire guns at them? At some point, they either keep their head down and do the job they are assigned, or they sign on with a faction and begin taking orders. Possibly there were entire colony pods filled with people who had no discernable allegiance, but these would be unlikely to survive long on their own after Planetfall. The whole point of the bruhaha aboard Unity is that there is a scramble to obtain enough resources (humans, robots, equipment, food, and water) to “make a go of it” once on the ground.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    No, the opening cutscene says, very explicitly, that they factionalize and separate in space.  If anyone else said otherwise, like the novels, they got it wrong.  How can you believe what you just said?  Everyone would have to have crashed at the same landing site.  On Planetfall, Hive minders can't walk across oceans to Morganite luxury complexes.  I've contemplated writing a game where everyone crashes in 1 place, builds a 1st base, then the factional splits happen.  But that's not SMAC.

    The disaster occurs when they are at the edge of the Alpha Centauri system. All of the factions may have roots on Earth, with some members of the mission already given to a particular ideological preference, but many will not have formed any opinions when they first wake up.

    The factions form aboard a dying Unity (or else in the chaotic last days of the Chiron Interstellar Probe settlement that preceeded the Unity mission). In the case of the factions that formed aboard Unity, that means that they would have had to secure certain personnel who had critical skills irrespective of those crew members’ political preferences.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Sure they won't worry about it.  But it doesn't mean they're going to survive and prosper for having done it.  They may very well cut their nose to spite their face.  Let's say your best biologist has a conscience and you put a pickaxe through her head.  Next thing you know your colony is hit by a plague.  Gee where was your biologist?  You might all be dead.  Similarly if you kill the 1 farmer bright enough to know how to grow the food.  Or the 1 soldier who knows anything about tactical defense and recon.

    Over the long haul of 150 years, this played out in the real life empire of China.  In 1435 the maritime eunuchs were doing a mercantile expansionist thing, like the Europeans did 80 years later.  They sent 400..600 foot treasure boats (claimed; may have been smaller) as far as what's now Mozambique.  But land based agrarian Confucians thought trade was evil and had a civil war with them.  The Confucians won, gutted the navy in the process, and banned trade and travel for 150 years.  The expansionist initative passed irretrievably to the Europeans.  This is the primary reason most of us are not eating more rice.

    A good number of the factions will have resorted to simply waking any crew member still available as Unity falls to pieces. Warm bodies to perform farm labor, at the very least.

    Quote from: bvanevery

    What a bunch of rubes!  Usually the promise is it will happen.  Anyone getting sold a river that it did happen, clearly didn't read the Bible as to what the results were supposed to be.

    "It will happen, and it will happen in our lifetimes.  Jesus Power isn't just the future, Jesus Power is now."

    Wow with a fiction like that, you'd have to seriously deal with the issue of apostasy.  That's more denominationally bizarre than what even the Mormons believe.  It would be an interesting fiction though, the process of casting new mythologies for the encountered reality.

    The idea is that the Biblical cannon has grown a bit by the time Unity leaves Earth.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Hey I don't remember signing The Declaration of Independence.  I don't remember fighting the US Civil War, but I do check out the battlefields with my dog, 'cuz it's something we can both enjoy.  I don't remember WW II or Auschwitz.  Learning about and supporting events beyond one's lifetime, is not a remarkable human activity.

    No, but you remember the experience of a reliable system of law and order, of participation in communities with national or global footprints, of access to multiple sources of information and opinion, etc. Many of the people aboard Unity would not have experienced that sort of thing except for a short period of time. Their commitment to liberal-democratic norms would be substantially weaker than yours or mine.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #36 on: January 13, 2017, 07:22:08 AM »
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  • The “neat” separation of the escape pods from the Unity depicted in the opening cut-scene is not indicative of an absence of violence aboard the ship itself.

    Actually for the most part it is.  It means all factions agreed to launch simultaneously.  If they were struggling for power like it was their first deathmatch, pods would be exploding, or sabotaged to remain locked on the Unity as it burns up on entry.  Pods would be leaving at different times.  Simultaneous release shows a high degree of coordination between faction leaders, which indicates a relative absence of violence.  Sure there may have been a corridor skirmish here and there, but they are not warring with each other.  They have neutral relationships when they get to Planet's surface.  They are not holding grudges.

    The tone of the opening cutscene is also fairly calm.  The narration is calm.  You can argue that they got it wrong, and that their included piece of written fiction doesn't agree with it.  In case of a conflict, what does one regard as canon?  Regardless of canon, the player is shown and told the circumstances.  So I am inclined to go with that. 

    Now Earth, on the other hand, is definitely a madhouse.

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    At some point, they either keep their head down and do the job they are assigned, or they sign on with a faction and begin taking orders.

    Or they go zombie apocalypse, as has been covered by a half dozen TV shows by now.  Kill anyone who gets near you.  Trust is rather difficult in a survival scenario.  Leadership positions are not stable; in SMAC, that is a fiction for the sake of the wargame.

    Quote
    Possibly there were entire colony pods filled with people who had no discernable allegiance, but these would be unlikely to survive long on their own after Planetfall.

    Who says?  They might be the bright ones who did something constructive with mindworms upon landing.  They might have utilized a monolith.  They might have salvaged an alien artifact.  They might have landed on The Manifold Nexus.  They might be eating giant pineapples in The Monsoon Jungle. 

    Quote
    The whole point of the bruhaha aboard Unity is that there is a scramble to obtain enough resources (humans, robots, equipment, food, and water) to “make a go of it” once on the ground.

    Guess you don't have a lot of ;santi; in you, if you think you need that much overhead to survive.  Nobody drops with Formers either.  Most factions figure out how to do that later.

    Quote
    The idea is that the Biblical cannon has grown a bit by the time Unity leaves Earth.

    Ain't Biblical canon as we know it.  When Jesus comes, you are either UP or DOWN.

    Throwing out basic tenets of Christianity takes explaining.  At least to Christians playing your game, who actually care.  I'm atheist, I don't care as much.  I do say it's bad science fiction.  Not credible that Christians would believe The Rapture has come and they were left behind.  You are a very, very bad person if Jesus leaves you behind.

    Quote
    No, but you remember the experience of a reliable system of law and order, of participation in communities with national or global footprints, of access to multiple sources of information and opinion, etc. Many of the people aboard Unity would not have experienced that sort of thing except for a short period of time. Their commitment to liberal-democratic norms would be substantially weaker than yours or mine.

    How do you suppose everyone learned all the science and technology and running a ship stuff, except by a stable educational system?  You don't build interstellar vessels by having everyone on Earth running around like chickens with their heads cut off in a zombie apocalypse.

    There was most certainly a degree of law and order, to pull such an engineering feat off.  Even if it was marital law.  Democratic?  Maybe, maybe not.  Soviet or Chinese models of society, could have put a ship in space.  A United Nations effort implies democracy exists to some degree though.

    Offline Trenacker

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #37 on: January 14, 2017, 05:20:36 AM »
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  • Quote from: bvanevery
    Actually for the most part it is.  It means all factions agreed to launch simultaneously.  If they were struggling for power like it was their first deathmatch, pods would be exploding, or sabotaged to remain locked on the Unity as it burns up on entry.  Pods would be leaving at different times.  Simultaneous release shows a high degree of coordination between faction leaders, which indicates a relative absence of violence.  Sure there may have been a corridor skirmish here and there, but they are not warring with each other.  They have neutral relationships when they get to Planet's surface.  They are not holding grudges.

    The tone of the opening cutscene is also fairly calm.  The narration is calm.  You can argue that they got it wrong, and that their included piece of written fiction doesn't agree with it.  In case of a conflict, what does one regard as canon?  Regardless of canon, the player is shown and told the circumstances.  So I am inclined to go with that. 

    Now Earth, on the other hand, is definitely a madhouse.

    You’re correct that the original cut scene depicts a simultaneous launch of colony pods, indicating that an accord was reached between the mission survivors. Your assessment of limited violence is therefore clearly correct.

    That said, one of those pods explodes immediately, and it’s not clear why. I don’t think the tone of narration is indicative of the level of violence, high or low.

    In my simulation, as I have already stated, the level of violence aboard the ship is extreme. I honestly think that this is more likely if the crew is fractured. Planet is habitable, but not hospitable, and it must be clear to any awakened crew that their odds of continued survival on the surface drop precipitously without access to heavy equipment and a range of experts, none of which is readily to hand.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Or they go zombie apocalypse, as has been covered by a half dozen TV shows by now.  Kill anyone who gets near you.  Trust is rather difficult in a survival scenario.  Leadership positions are not stable; in SMAC, that is a fiction for the sake of the wargame.

    That approach might work for those who want an immediate escape from the hulk of the colony ship, but it wouldn’t be an effective long-term survival strategy, if only because there is no way that one person is going to found a successful colony. In my simulation, the challenges for a “sole survivor” would be greatly exacerbated by the fact that some groups already exhibit tight coordination, giving them a potent quantitative advantage (on top of an already fearsome qualitative advantage).

    Given the fact that no follow-on missions were planned, it is also improbable that the Unity would have been equipped with the equivalent of single- or low-occupancy life pods. Yes, there is bulk survival equipment, but it requires many hands. It wouldn’t be a simple matter of erecting a solar shelter, then a rain catchment, and opening an MRE every three days.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Guess you don't have a lot of ;santi; in you, if you think you need that much overhead to survive.  Nobody drops with Formers either.  Most factions figure out how to do that later.

    There’s no way around it. Factions without heavy equipment are put at a terrible disadvantage. On a world where the atmosphere is poisonous for humans, overhead is essential.

    Long-term use of encounter suits is possible only with a significant infrastructure already in place. We’re talking about facilities that are on par with those we saw in Martian. Remember that while Matt Damon was able to survive, he certainly didn’t build the base camp on his own.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Ain't Biblical canon as we know it.  When Jesus comes, you are either UP or DOWN.

    Throwing out basic tenets of Christianity takes explaining.  At least to Christians playing your game, who actually care.  I'm atheist, I don't care as much.  I do say it's bad science fiction.  Not credible that Christians would believe The Rapture has come and they were left behind.  You are a very, very bad person if Jesus leaves you behind.

    No, it isn’t Biblical canon as we know it, and nobody proposed not to explain it.

    You’re assuming pieces of the narrative to enable your criticism. You say you’re an atheist. If so, then you presumably share my belief that the Rapture is a fiction that will never come to pass. In other words, believers read into the mystery and project a set of expectations impervious to empirical evidence.

    In a post-apocalyptic environment, a great many people might be convinced that their mere survival confirms that they are among the Elect. Depending on their level of technology, they might be gulled be petty “miracles” that you or I would explain with resort to science. Most likely, they would simply accept that the Rapture didn’t happen quite as they had anticipated. Biblical Literalism faces many problems already. Deciding that the Second Coming would be followed by a Third wouldn’t all that hard. However, in this case, Miriam argues that the Rapture is made manifest in the completion of Unity: the entire crew is among the Elect, believer or not, and it is the responsibility of the Conclave to bring the wayward sheep back into the fold as a prelude to some Heavenly reward.

    Remember, too, that there are multiple examples of doomsday cults, including Christian cults, prophesying doomsday, living through it, and revising their beliefs to protect their preexisting worldviews.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    How do you suppose everyone learned all the science and technology and running a ship stuff, except by a stable educational system?  You don't build interstellar vessels by having everyone on Earth running around like chickens with their heads cut off in a zombie apocalypse.

    There was most certainly a degree of law and order, to pull such an engineering feat off.  Even if it was marital law.  Democratic?  Maybe, maybe not.  Soviet or Chinese models of society, could have put a ship in space.  A United Nations effort implies democracy exists to some degree though.

    A stable educational system is not the same thing as liberal democracy. There are also plenty of examples in the world today of people who experienced one type of government at one period in their lives, and another later on.

    Think about Ender’s Game. The Unity endeavor is an official effort. Some people will have been literally raised in compounds for the purpose of crewing the ship. There’s an insidious quality to that, isn’t there?

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #38 on: January 14, 2017, 06:37:04 AM »
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  • That said, one of those pods explodes immediately, and it’s not clear why.


    I've never gotten into this level of detail before, about what's going on.  Looking at the ship, it's octagonal.  So 1 pod has to blow up, for there to be 7 factions landing.  Is this the source of the scattered Unity supply pods?  It's an interesting "catch" though, that someone making the video ensured that only 7 pods would reach the surface.

    Quote
    I don’t think the tone of narration is indicative of the level of violence, high or low.


    Well it's for s**t storytelling, if that Prozac voice narrator is trying to get us worried about the dying and suffering.  And the dialogue sucks for that purpose as well.  It's an info dump.  It's not "OMFG the sky is falling!  The sky is falling!"

    Quote
    In my simulation, the challenges for a “sole survivor” would be greatly exacerbated by the fact that some groups already exhibit tight coordination, giving them a potent quantitative advantage (on top of an already fearsome qualitative advantage).


    Just get Rambo a mate.   ;)

    Quote
    Given the fact that no follow-on missions were planned, it is also improbable that the Unity would have been equipped with the equivalent of single- or low-occupancy life pods.


    You ever heard of spacing people?  Like, the 99 other people in your way?

    Quote
    Yes, there is bulk survival equipment, but it requires many hands. It wouldn’t be a simple matter of erecting a solar shelter, then a rain catchment, and opening an MRE every three days.


    Why?  Simply because you don't want your fiction to repeat "The Martian" (2015)?  I think what you're really saying, is that you as an author don't want 1 person to make it.  You want Groupthink scenarios, so you devise and ensure them.  Which is an authorial choice, not a simulation.

    I've always had trouble with the scales of colonization depicted in SMAC, or the Civ games for that matter.  I think scale is deliberately ignored most of the time.  10 colonists, 100, 1000?  The game is deliberately never clear, so that it can be a game, with rules, and art assets.

    Quote
    On a world where the atmosphere is poisonous for humans, overhead is essential.
    Long-term use of encounter suits is possible only with a significant infrastructure already in place. We’re talking about facilities that are on par with those we saw in Martian. Remember that while Matt Damon was able to survive, he certainly didn’t build the base camp on his own.


    So more than 1 guy with a rucksack, less than an army.  I don't know what we're arguing about exactly.  I suspect a difference of personality styles regarding "the possible".

    Quote
    In other words, believers read into the mystery and project a set of expectations impervious to empirical evidence.

    In a post-apocalyptic environment, a great many people might be convinced that their mere survival confirms that they are among the Elect.


    Which means they didn't read the Bible, and nobody that we would recognize as a mainstream Christian religion today, taught them the Bible.  This is not Heaven.  They were not Raptured.  You are talking about a brand new religion that has only the most superficial trappings of previous Christianity, i.e. "Jesus was involved".  I find it hard to believe that most people with current Christian indoctrination could swallow it.  So what happened to them?  All wiped out in an apocalypse?  Leaving only charlatans to make up new guff and bamboozle the stupid?

    Quote
    Depending on their level of technology, they might be gulled be petty “miracles” that you or I would explain with resort to science.


    You can't miracle people into believing they are now in Heaven.  A cult leader trying to convince people that he is in fact Jesus, is not impossible, but a damn hard sell.

    Quote
    Most likely, they would simply accept that the Rapture didn’t happen quite as they had anticipated. Biblical Literalism faces many problems already.


    Jesus came and he, uh, f***d us in the ***?  I think you're walking down a theological road where the flock has to be pretty stupid and ignorant of Christian doctrine to buy any of it. 

    Quote
    Deciding that the Second Coming would be followed by a Third wouldn’t all that hard.


    Oh good grief.  Do you think Christians as we currently know them, aren't ideologically committed to anything?  That they'll just swallow any old warp in the "rules" ?

    Quote
    However, in this case, Miriam argues that the Rapture is made manifest in the completion of Unity: the entire crew is among the Elect, believer or not, and it is the responsibility of the Conclave to bring the wayward sheep back into the fold as a prelude to some Heavenly reward.


    Meh.  Not buyin' it dude.  You can put people on a spaceship who believe in God.  They don't have to have wacko revisionist ideas of what Christianity is.  Miriam could just be a considered seminary student, she doesn't have to be a freaky Jim Jones cult leader.  Nor is she portrayed by such in any of the game assets.  She just keeps yabbering about God is real, God's gonna be behind the next discovery.  Then the game offers that annoying chestnut in the cutscene for The Universal Translator, that a Biblical passage seems to be on a monolith on Planet.  Whatever.  Since it's all crap, I guess you're just proposing a different kind of crap.  But your crap smells like crap.

    Quote
    Remember, too, that there are multiple examples of doomsday cults, including Christian cults, prophesying doomsday, living through it, and revising their beliefs to protect their preexisting worldviews.


    Do they scale?  Do they get tasked with Ministerial positions on a United Nations project?  Do they get to make the Democratic social engineering choice when they reach Planet and eventually learn Ethical Calculus?  Miriam doesn't "ship" as a freak.  But she is devout and she ain't gonna give that up.

    The total 100% cult leader is Yang.  I'm actually confused how he got on this project.  Let's pick on him for a bit!  Including Christians in a UN mission is hardly a brain fart.  But this guy??  What did he contribute, why is he there?  Other than to be an interesting voice about humanity's future in the game.

    Quote
    Some people will have been literally raised in compounds for the purpose of crewing the ship. There’s an insidious quality to that, isn’t there?


    I don't buy that because I think it's our Earth that goes kablooey.  Our global warming.  Our societal time period: listen to the opening cutscene, the thing launches in 2016.  We aren't "factory chicken farming" people to do space programs, and I can't think of any societal evolution where we would be.

    Why do you put so much stock in factory chicken farming as a survival plan anyways?  Who's to say that such people can perform when it comes to the real thing?  c.f. "Soldier" (1998)  "Shoulda made 'em smart."  Although... that's arguing degrees of chicken farming.

    The thematic issue we're arguing about is the proposition, "People are Drones".  I'm not, so... I don't tend to buy it.

    Offline Trenacker

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #39 on: January 15, 2017, 01:31:47 AM »
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  • Quote from: bvanevery
    I've never gotten into this level of detail before, about what's going on.  Looking at the ship, it's octagonal.  So 1 pod has to blow up, for there to be 7 factions landing.  Is this the source of the scattered Unity supply pods?  It's an interesting "catch" though, that someone making the video ensured that only 7 pods would reach the surface.


    I redesigned the Unity to accommodate the number of players in the simulation, providing a schematic for the ship and increasing the number of colony pods, which I differentiated from supply pods. The idea was that some factions launched supply pods toward specific coordinates on the ground where they intended to land, while others simply "dumped" them, either in geosynchronous or degrading orbits, for later retrieval.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Just get Rambo a mate.   ;)


    Some factions had one. The Tribe, created by a poster named Thorn on The Frontier forums, had a fella by the name of Pete Landers.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    You ever heard of spacing people?  Like, the 99 other people in your way?


    I meant for the "sole survivor" types. I fully expect that many people would be spaced, sometimes intentionally, sometimes by mistake.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Simply because you don't want your fiction to repeat "The Martian" (2015)?  I think what you're really saying, is that you as an author don't want 1 person to make it.  You want Groupthink scenarios, so you devise and ensure them.  Which is an authorial choice, not a simulation.


    As a friend once put it, a little of Column A, and a little of Column B. I absolutely have a very specific aesthetic in mind for the simulation, and I've written the fiction to suit.

    Apart from the simulation, I don't see how one individual, or even a small group of individuals, could survive making a go of it without first being associated with a much larger operation. The air is toxic, the water non-potable, and the environment decidedly hostile? (I even added predatory wildlife in addition to the Mindworms.)

    I could absolutely see small parties, and perhaps even hermits, eking out a living in the abandoned footprint created by a faction that has been destroyed or else moved on.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    I've always had trouble with the scales of colonization depicted in SMAC, or the Civ games for that matter.  I think scale is deliberately ignored most of the time.  10 colonists, 100, 1000?  The game is deliberately never clear, so that it can be a game, with rules, and art assets.


    That's a reasonable complaint, I think.

    My simulation includes smaller factions, such as the Honored Dead (see below), a faction of mission loyalists left over from the Chiron Probe under an administrator named Joralemon Hardacre, and the Hunters of Chiron, a faction not unlike the Wheeler Raiders, led by a former special forces soldier and big game hunter, J.T. Marsh.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    So more than 1 guy with a rucksack, less than an army.  I don't know what we're arguing about exactly.  I suspect a difference of personality styles regarding "the possible".


    I could see people reaching the surface in those kinds of numbers (say, a dozen or so) and realizing that they can go on for a while, but not indefinitely. They'd need to join a colony or rely on raiding and scavenging. I can't see many such groups getting lucky often enough, especially during the early years following Planetfall, to make it work.

    I do have one faction, The Honored Dead, inspired by the Le Maras family from the director's cut of Apocalypse Now and Colonel Kurtz's camp. They were leave-behinds from another faction (undecided) that pulled out of a forward outpost after a long period of conflict with the Holnists. The trouble is, as the name implies, they're down to the proverbial last bullet.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Which means they didn't read the Bible, and nobody that we would recognize as a mainstream Christian religion today, taught them the Bible.  This is not Heaven.  They were not Raptured.  You are talking about a brand new religion that has only the most superficial trappings of previous Christianity, i.e. "Jesus was involved".  I find it hard to believe that most people with current Christian indoctrination could swallow it.  So what happened to them?  All wiped out in an apocalypse?  Leaving only charlatans to make up new guff and bamboozle the stupid?


    Religious belief is in large part a product of discrete time and place, even though it relies on foundational teachings from previous eras. A world that has endured multiple apocalyptic scenarios, including nuclear war, civil wars, famine, and disease outbreaks, may be open to the idea that Rapture means something more than being literally "disappeared."

    From Godwinson's perspective, the literal and metaphorical vehicle for the Rapture is, in fact, the Unity. It's taking people away to a new existence. It's up to the player to decide the depth of Miriam's sociopathy.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Depending on their level of technology, they might be gulled be petty “miracles” that you or I would explain with resort to science.


    I didn't mean that Godwinson would try to suggest that she is Jesus.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Do they scale?  Do they get tasked with Ministerial positions on a United Nations project?  Do they get to make the Democratic social engineering choice when they reach Planet and eventually learn Ethical Calculus?  Miriam doesn't "ship" as a freak.  But she is devout and she ain't gonna give that up.


    Some number of them clearly do become congressmen, if we're thinking about the modern United States. The Miriam of my fiction is a much less salutary character than in the original game design. Here, she is tainted by her involvement in certain Christian militia movements that spring up not long after the present day. Much as some of her adversaries would prefer to put her against a brick wall and open fire, she is one of many individuals formally "rehabilitated" through inclusion in the diplomacy that allows the emergence of the Restored United States.

    I also look at the very existence of the Unity, when considering the implications of a dying Earth, to be spiritually significant. When it's a countdown to total destruction, selection for the mission will seem like a miracle to many people. In my fiction, I deal with this by describing how early manifests for the expedition were leaked, leading to assassinations and rioting.

    If Unity can be viewed as a manifestation of some future evolution/incarnation of the United Nations, then it is reasonable to assume that the project not only enjoys the benefits of international cooperation (i.e., increased access to resources), but the drawbacks as well (the need to accept sometimes-unpalatable outcomes along the way to the bigger objective). Not that Miriam isn't strongly opposed by folks like Mikhail Saratov (The University), Pete Landers (The Tribe), and Oscar van de Graaf (The New Two Thousand).

    At least four faction leaders are stowaways, including Nwabudke Morgan, Corazon Santiago, Seth Holn, and Pete Landers. Two, Morgan and Santiago, aren't listed on the crew manifest even under pseudonyms. (Landers goes in as a low-level technician, while Holn is a security officer -- both using assumed names.)

    Quote from: bvanevery
    The total 100% cult leader is Yang.  I'm actually confused how he got on this project.  Let's pick on him for a bit!


    Gladly. I agree with you that the explanation for his inclusion (at least as I see it) is fascinating, and worthy of deeper exploration.

     
    Quote from: bvanevery
    Including Christians in a UN mission is hardly a brain fart.  But this guy??  What did he contribute, why is he there?  Other than to be an interesting voice about humanity's future in the game.


    Several reasons, I think. First, as I said earlier, it's clear that the composition of the Unity mission was based on compromise. The backstories for the various faction leaders discusses massive corruption among the contractors engaged to build the starship itself. It's not a leap to think that contractors would even have been paid to select crew.

    Practically speaking, if The Unity is as massive as I think, it would have taken decades to build -- meaning that some modules would be operating on technology that was already obsolete by the time later crew members were even born. There would almost certainly be a decision to rely on older technology -- and not just because it would be known to all, but also because it would be more reliable and better-known to the crew as compared to cutting-edge stuff. The crew -- and I am thinking that there were tens of thousands -- would live in compounds and train for years to understand the equivalent of steam engines, payphones, and dial-up modems.

    At various times, nations might have lobbied for the right to contribute crew. It is plausible that while most nations would send their best, others would send undesirables who they couldn't otherwise easily eliminate, or else agents intended to subvert the overall mission to create a foothold in space for a particular country or cause.

    Per his bio, Yang clearly manipulated those tasked to evaluate his suitability for the mission.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    I don't buy that because I think it's our Earth that goes kablooey.  Our global warming.  Our societal time period: listen to the opening cutscene, the thing launches in 2016.  We aren't "factory chicken farming" people to do space programs, and I can't think of any societal evolution where we would be.


    In 2016, we are both far more advanced (e.g., drones) and yet less advanced (e.g., cold sleep) than the Unity. I revised the launch dates and decided that the missions wouldn't be occurring anytime soon.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Why do you put so much stock in factory chicken farming as a survival plan anyways?  Who's to say that such people can perform when it comes to the real thing?  c.f. "Soldier" (1998)  "Shoulda made 'em smart."  Although... that's arguing degrees of chicken farming.

    The thematic issue we're arguing about is the proposition, "People are Drones".  I'm not, so... I don't tend to buy it.


    I just think it would be one component of the mission. They'd need crew with very particular skills. This is something nobody's ever done before. They'd do something with the time they had, like train intensively. Look at historical and current space programs.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #40 on: January 15, 2017, 04:23:02 AM »
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  • Apart from the simulation, I don't see how one individual, or even a small group of individuals, could survive making a go of it without first being associated with a much larger operation. The air is toxic, the water non-potable, and the environment decidedly hostile? (I even added predatory wildlife in addition to the Mindworms.)

    I think SMAC hand waved away all concerns about human technological development and capabilities, because it wanted to mostly skin Civ II techs and play mechanics and put them into space.  It's not actually rational to posit that humans can get to Alpha Centauri in their neat spaceship, yet are fairly helpless and incapable on the ground, until a lot of time passes.  Humans are made incapable because you're playing Earth history reskinned in space.

    For instance: anyone getting ahold of any kind of fission reactor for civilian purposes, could suitcase nuke any base.  Delivery systems for such a nuke, would not be difficult to construct.  If you've got a terraformer, you've got a crawler that can move into an enemy base and blow it up.

    In other words SMAC tech if you stare at it is f#%$#$ dumb.  It works when you do not stare at it, when you allow yourself to be swept up in the narrative.  Mapping the Human Genome, really??  We did that in real life not long after SMAC was released.  What the heck does it have to do with recycling?  Ever heard of a sawdust toilet?  They just wanted to stick Civ II's Granaries somewhere early in the game.

    Since in a hard sci-fi sense I don't accept SMAC's take on technology at all, I think it's perfectly reasonable to consider more individuated, decentralized technologies for managing one's environment.  I think these sorts of things would also be developed on a failing Earth.  Colonizing Antarctica, solving moisture problems in Sub-Saharan Africa, and living on the oceans, are all things easier to achieve than making it to Alpha Centauri.  The main thing that has stopped me from writing a game about all this stuff taking place on Earth, is the amount of complexity and historical continuity people would expect from it.  There are some advantages to positing an alien planet that has almost no fauna, just fungus growing all over it.

    Quote
    I could see people reaching the surface in those kinds of numbers (say, a dozen or so) and realizing that they can go on for a while, but not indefinitely.  They'd need to join a colony or rely on raiding and scavenging. I can't see many such groups getting lucky often enough, especially during the early years following Planetfall, to make it work.

    They could screw a lot.  You know we come with the equipment to do that, right?  Social mores for a "repopulation society" might look kinda tawdry compared to a lot of people's current standards.  Have a biologist check for likelyhood of birth defects and call it good.  Very much a Planned social engineering choice.

    Quote
    Religious belief is in large part a product of discrete time and place, even though it relies on foundational teachings from previous eras. A world that has endured multiple apocalyptic scenarios, including nuclear war, civil wars, famine, and disease outbreaks, may be open to the idea that Rapture means something more than being literally "disappeared."

    They'd have to burn all those Bibles lying around.  You know that book has survived in various forms for ~2000 years, right?  With many revisions... but basically the same stories, more or less.  And times were not pleasant in much of human history.  Having faith when the world throws evil at you, is a large part of Christian identity.

    Who actually is primarily interested in trashing Christian theology as we currently know it?  Secularists, Muslims, maybe some neo-Pagans.  Really don't buy that Christians invest a bunch of time rewriting their stuff.  Their stuff worked for 2000 years and the world sucked bad for them plenty of times.

    Quote
    I also look at the very existence of the Unity, when considering the implications of a dying Earth, to be spiritually significant. When it's a countdown to total destruction, selection for the mission will seem like a miracle to many people. In my fiction, I deal with this by describing how early manifests for the expedition were leaked, leading to assassinations and rioting.

    It's true that lots of people are dumb about selective observation and pyramid schemes.  One of my favorite ones is rituals of honor, courage, and sacrifice in the military.  The dead ones are face down in a WW I trench somewhere.  They can't communicate heroic memes of survival and courage, they're dead.  So you get the kind of mythologizing crap and drum beating about war, that suits the survivors, because they went through this random selection process and survived.

    Some people will believe the bull@#%.  Others know they are conscientiously choosing to live on the backs of others, to be the alphas and have betas / deltas underneath them.  Others probably suspect they have privilege, but don't really want to think about it much or be emotionally honest with themselves.  Societies do come up with great memes to explain why their more privileged members deserve to be on top; a lot of conservatives in the USA are particularly good at it.  And co-opting (typically) poor white people to swallow their guff.  c.f. Cultural Hegemony.

    Quote
    Practically speaking, if The Unity is as massive as I think, it would have taken decades to build -- meaning that some modules would be operating on technology that was already obsolete by the time later crew members were even born.

    BTW, even more reason why I think SMAC's tech premises are bull@#$.  Makes living on Antarctica look like cake.

    Quote
    The crew -- and I am thinking that there were tens of thousands --

    The spaceship shown in the cutscenes doesn't look remotely that damn big to me.  You get a lot of shots of what a "Unity landing pod" looks like in early base illustrations.  They're not huge, maybe 3 stories tall at most.  Very human scale.  Not that different from technology shown in the recent movie The Martian.  I think a faction could actually be about 50..100 people.

    The rest of the game... deliberately screws up scale.  So did Civ II.  You build an ironclad, it sails around the world, it's obsolete by the time it has completed its journey.  It's not real life oceanic warfare, it's just a silly game.

    Quote
    Per his bio, Yang clearly manipulated those tasked to evaluate his suitability for the mission.

    I accept China putting forward "their man".  China's important, even moreso now than they were when SMAC was written.  What I don't get, is why Yang would thrive within the Communist Party apparatus.  It's not impossible, but it's a hell of a story, how this guy managed to wheedle his way into this.

    Why isn't someone like him ruling China?  Is there no China left?  If there's no China left, then why would China be on the mission?

    Quote
    In 2016, we are both far more advanced (e.g., drones) and yet less advanced (e.g., cold sleep) than the Unity. I revised the launch dates and decided that the missions wouldn't be occurring anytime soon.

    Sci-fi, especially when released for populist audiences, almost always gets it wrong.  Waaay too early for everything.  I'm not sure why authors succumb to the desire to make everything seem just around the corner.  Personally I think it's dumb, and cliche, but emotionally I seem to be in the minority about it.  Maybe authors assume that most people can't grasp the scope of human history.  They don't wanna explain it so they hand wave, "Twenty years from now...."

    Star Trek was a bit smarter in that they put events a few hundred years in the future.  Probably still implausible but at least there's more time for world history to unfold and have some serious problems.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Look at historical and current space programs.

    Since SMAC was written, we've had SpaceX.  "It has to be big, only a Government can do it" seems to be an underlying assumption of both SMAC and your fictions derived from SMAC.  Armies of experts....

    Woulda been a lot easier to colonize Mars.  Think about it.  But if you think too hard, you don't have a game anymore.


    Offline Trenacker

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #41 on: January 15, 2017, 05:34:54 AM »
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  • Quote from: bvanevery
    I think SMAC hand waved away all concerns about human technological development and capabilities, because it wanted to mostly skin Civ II techs and play mechanics and put them into space.  It's not actually rational to posit that humans can get to Alpha Centauri in their neat spaceship, yet are fairly helpless and incapable on the ground, until a lot of time passes.  Humans are made incapable because you're playing Earth history reskinned in space.

    For instance: anyone getting ahold of any kind of fission reactor for civilian purposes, could suitcase nuke any base.  Delivery systems for such a nuke, would not be difficult to construct.  If you've got a terraformer, you've got a crawler that can move into an enemy base and blow it up.

    In other words SMAC tech if you stare at it is f#%$#$ dumb.  It works when you do not stare at it, when you allow yourself to be swept up in the narrative.  Mapping the Human Genome, really??  We did that in real life not long after SMAC was released.  What the heck does it have to do with recycling?  Ever heard of a sawdust toilet?  They just wanted to stick Civ II's Granaries somewhere early in the game.

    Since in a hard sci-fi sense I don't accept SMAC's take on technology at all, I think it's perfectly reasonable to consider more individuated, decentralized technologies for managing one's environment.  I think these sorts of things would also be developed on a failing Earth.  Colonizing Antarctica, solving moisture problems in Sub-Saharan Africa, and living on the oceans, are all things easier to achieve than making it to Alpha Centauri.  The main thing that has stopped me from writing a game about all this stuff taking place on Earth, is the amount of complexity and historical continuity people would expect from it.  There are some advantages to positing an alien planet that has almost no fauna, just fungus growing all over it.

    Sure, it did. The design team for my last game went through the original tech tree and added dozens of new technologies, virtually all of them in the initial tiers.

    I did think that the advances expressed in SMAC were at least in the vein of what one thinks about when tackling the question of future technology. However, some of the aspects were absolutely forced. In the end, I had to split technological progress along two tracks: the material and immaterial, or materials science and doctrine. Materials science was about crafting new things. Doctrine enabled a faction to execute specific tasks more effectively. They shared a single tree, organized into a hierarchy of 21 tiers, numbered 0 through 20. Specific technologies were grouped in one of eight focus areas: build (materials science and engineering), discover (Terran life and machine sciences, mostly theoretical), explore (life sciences of Chiron), Conquer (military applications), Expand (practical applications for population growth), Command (social control applications), Choose (an ethical track), and Restore (advances related to harnessing the technological legacy of the Unity and restoring contact with Earth). Following the Choose path, it was possible for a faction to gradually breed the equivalent of Mentats.

    I used the late 1990s as the starting point. The new tech true included things like Doctrine: Special War and C4I. Industrial Base and Centauri Geology led to Hydraulic Tapping and then Hydraulic Fracking. There were also Aerosol Immunization, Reactive Armors, and things like Post-Conventional Ethics.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    They could screw a lot.  You know we come with the equipment to do that, right?  Social mores for a "repopulation society" might look kinda tawdry compared to a lot of people's current standards.  Have a biologist check for likelyhood of birth defects and call it good.  Very much a Planned social engineering choice.

    It wasn’t a question of birthrates or genetics at all, but purely a calculation based on availability of food, water, and shelter. I don’t think that small groups would survive very long because they would be vulnerable to predators and unable to venture far from their supply dumps lest they run out of consumables.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    They'd have to burn all those Bibles lying around.  You know that book has survived in various forms for ~2000 years, right?  With many revisions... but basically the same stories, more or less.  And times were not pleasant in much of human history.  Having faith when the world throws evil at you, is a large part of Christian identity.

    It’s less a question of lost faith and more a question of interpretation, which has absolutely changed over time.


    Quote from: bvanevery
    Who actually is primarily interested in trashing Christian theology as we currently know it?  Secularists, Muslims, maybe some neo-Pagans.  Really don't buy that Christians invest a bunch of time rewriting their stuff.  Their stuff worked for 2000 years and the world sucked bad for them plenty of times.

    They wouldn’t need to abandon existing teaching; just bolt on to it. (They wouldn’t need to do anything, actually. I just happen to think it unlikely that most world religions would survive the kinds of calamities it would take to truly doom Earth without experiencing radical change in their attitudes along the way.) For example, archaeologists might discover evidence of a new book of the Bible. Or there might be a new addition to the canon from existing non-canon books.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    The spaceship shown in the cutscenes doesn't look remotely that damn big to me.  You get a lot of shots of what a "Unity landing pod" looks like in early base illustrations.  They're not huge, maybe 3 stories tall at most.  Very human scale.  Not that different from technology shown in the recent movie The Martian.  I think a faction could actually be about 50..100 people.

    This is a game design question. I chose deliberately to deviate from the source material.

    I should also remind you that I posit two separate, large-scale attempts to colonize Alpha Centauri: the Chiron Interstellar Probe (CIP), and, between 100 and 200 years later, Unity. The CIP probably had a crew of no more than 5,000. Unity’s population was many times as large.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    I accept China putting forward "their man".  China's important, even moreso now than they were when SMAC was written.  What I don't get, is why Yang would thrive within the Communist Party apparatus.  It's not impossible, but it's a hell of a story, how this guy managed to wheedle his way into this.

    I always got the sense that China was no longer Communist by the time that Yang came along. (In fact, I deliberately place the Zakharov/Saratov character in a renewed Soviet Union.) Yang’s bio refers to a Golden Emperor, which implies the restoration of a royal dynasty and the dissolution of the Communist Party.

    The game wants us to believe that Yang thrived because he is both cunning and patient: he can ape (and thus toe) the party line (no pun intended), efficiently execute tasks assigned to him, and scares the daylights out of even the Secret Police. He’s the kind of rare person who leaders determine that they would rather not deal with, but cannot do without.

    Keeping with the story, Yang might well have been the power behind the Golden Emperor. He could also have concluded that it is not, in fact, better to rule in Hell than roll the dice in Heaven.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Since SMAC was written, we've had SpaceX.  "It has to be big, only a Government can do it" seems to be an underlying assumption of both SMAC and your fictions derived from SMAC.  Armies of experts....

    No, I point out that private companies got involved somewhere along the way. The government angle is necessary to harken back to the 1999 real-world context in which the game was created. One can just see the United Nations engaging in ridiculous gymnastics to maintain a notion of impartiality between the world’s most odious personalities and regimes. The bureaucratic pig’s breakfast that would result – not to mention the massive corruption as private companies feed at the trough – is too appealing.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #42 on: January 15, 2017, 07:18:05 AM »
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  • Following the Choose path, it was possible for a faction to gradually breed the equivalent of Mentats.

    Interesting; I wonder what my preferred tech narrative would look like, if I were to undertake the exercise.  I will ruminate on it for a bit.  I can't stand to actually play the game any longer tonight, I'm in a boring city-by-city elimination of the Hive.

    Quote
    It wasn’t a question of birthrates or genetics at all, but purely a calculation based on availability of food, water, and shelter.

    Quote
    Planet's atmosphere, though a gasping death to humans and most animals, is paradise for Earth plants. The high nitrate content of the soil and the rich yellow sunlight bring an abundant harvest wherever adjustments can be made for the unusual soil conditions.

        Lady Deirdre Skye, "A Comparative Biology of Planet"

    Food not a prob.  Plenty of sea water, and interstellar colonizers can handle desalination.  Shelter... no trickier than The Martian.  Or colonizing Mars. 

    Quote
    I don’t think that small groups would survive very long because they would be vulnerable to predators and unable to venture far from their supply dumps lest they run out of consumables.

    I think as usual you want them to die, so you make excuses why they have to.  How do you figure the initial Gaian colonists figure out how to be Planet friendly and capture mindworms early?  Or farm fungus early?  I'm not seeing the big overhead government bureaucrat factory chicken farming training program back on Earth that was going to prepare them for that.  Rather, they approached Planet with a different attitude than other people.  They were biologists and did biology stuff.  Most importantly they put hippie biologists in charge of the decisionmaking.  As opposed to all the other Dilbert ways they could have approached the survival problems of Planet.

    Quote
    They wouldn’t need to abandon existing teaching; just bolt on to it. (They wouldn’t need to do anything, actually. I just happen to think it unlikely that most world religions would survive the kinds of calamities it would take to truly doom Earth without experiencing radical change in their attitudes along the way.)

    And I totally disagree with you, because for the people who lived through various historical disasters, the end of their world as they knew it was exactly that for them.  Lots of people in Europe died of plagues; you think Christianity went anywhere?  The Holocaust happened; has Christianity vaporized?  I used to think "big disasters" were some kind of disproof of the existence of God.  Then eventually I realized that Christianity, from its very beginning, was a doctrine predicated on the suffering of its followers.  It has plenty of social program about how to regard suffering, long as you swallow the basic bull@#$ of the thing.  Don't need new bull@##$, the old bull@#$ already works.  Has worked, will continue to work, for anyone with a weak enough mind and/or social indoctrination to accept those kinds of explanations.

    N.B. I'm part of a "Recovering from Religion" group in Asheville, North Carolina.  I'm one of the few who didn't ever have a religion, I'm just trying to help those who are.  It is not specific doctrines that make a religion like Christianity work, i.e. keep people obedient and fearful of violating the tenets.  It's much more basic social control strategies.  In the BITE model of cult mind control, our group has found the recurring patterns in mainstream religions, at least among adults, are Thought and Emotional Control.  Adults in a secular industrial society generally can't have their behavior and information limited by a religion; that is typically how they eventually break free.

    BTW, here's your short course on the core messages of the Bible.  Obey.  Have Faith.  Stop thinking.  You suck.  If you screw up, you're going to Hell.  You don't actually need more than that to control people.

    Quote
    The game wants us to believe that Yang thrived because he is both cunning and patient: he can ape (and thus toe) the party line (no pun intended), efficiently execute tasks assigned to him, and scares the daylights out of even the Secret Police. He’s the kind of rare person who leaders determine that they would rather not deal with, but cannot do without.

    Keeping with the story, Yang might well have been the power behind the Golden Emperor. He could also have concluded that it is not, in fact, better to rule in Hell than roll the dice in Heaven.

    Seems like if he's that talented, he'd become the Hitler, the Stalin, or the Mao.  I really don't see why he would be 2nd to anyone.  At least in time; sounds almost exactly like Stalin's actual origin story.
    « Last Edit: January 15, 2017, 07:42:45 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline Trenacker

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #43 on: January 16, 2017, 05:02:05 AM »
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  • Quote from: bvanevery
    There was still a lot of work to be done on the Technology Tree when we abandoned the simulation. I most enjoyed adding various doctrines, such as Doctrine: Offense, Doctrine: Defense, and Doctrine: Insurgency. There was also an attempt, as I mentioned earlier, to distinguish Terran life sciences from those focused on the Chiron biome. I added things like Centauri Aquaculture.

    The ethics tree was fairly unique, with advances such as The Naïve Mind, Luttwakian Ethics (Edward Luttwak wrote a famous piece, "Give War a Chance"), and Water Discipline. I especially liked Regenerative Solids, Peltier Plates, Carbon Nanotubes, Wireless Electricity, and Claytronics.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Food not a prob.  Plenty of sea water, and interstellar colonizers can handle desalination.  Shelter... no trickier than The Martian.  Or colonizing Mars.

    Chiron is significantly less hostile than Mars, yes. However, the air is still poison, meaning that colonists must wear SCBA whenever they venture outside. My big concern is that the facilities needed to conduct desalinization would be beyond the labor capability of a very small group. And what about the Fungus?

    I don't think the Gaians were portrayed realistically even in terms of the world design in SMAC. But, again, I changed Chiron's environmental substantially for the simulation with the intent of making it much harder on the colonists. That's because I enjoyed the survival aspect and wanted colony growth to be slow so that there could be plenty of time for small-unit warfare rather than rapid growth of cities and the advent of industrial economies.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    And I totally disagree with you, because for the people who lived through various historical disasters, the end of their world as they knew it was exactly that for them.  Lots of people in Europe died of plagues; you think Christianity went anywhere?  The Holocaust happened; has Christianity vaporized?  I used to think "big disasters" were some kind of disproof of the existence of God.  Then eventually I realized that Christianity, from its very beginning, was a doctrine predicated on the suffering of its followers.  It has plenty of social program about how to regard suffering, long as you swallow the basic bull@#$ of the thing.  Don't need new bull@##$, the old bull@#$ already works.  Has worked, will continue to work, for anyone with a weak enough mind and/or social indoctrination to accept those kinds of explanations.

    Christianity changed dramatically as a result of the trials of the Middle Ages. Think about aspects of medieval Christianity that had all but died out or took on new form within just a few hundred years, including the monastic orders, crusading, and beliefs about whether it was appropriate to actually read the Bible.

    I honestly don't think that Miriam's deviation is as great a departure as you say, putting aside the issue of a Second Coming. I think that the idea of the Rapture could prove readily malleable in a context where billions have died and there is a mission being planned to a world that is supposedly another Earth. It's even easier to imagine if we say that the Chiron Intersteller Probe finds human life or artifacts on Chiron.

    Quote from: bvanevery
    Seems like if he's that talented, he'd become the Hitler, the Stalin, or the Mao.  I really don't see why he would be 2nd to anyone.  At least in time; sounds almost exactly like Stalin's actual origin story.

    Yes, but all of those individuals took time to ascend the rungs of power.

    It's also unclear to me why, exactly, Yang would feel the need to be the titular head of China. If he perceived that the idea of the Golden Emperor was the important thing, he could simply content himself to be the power behind the throne for the simple reason that he could not possibly sustain the charade of being royalty himself. Practically speaking, the end result is the same. Once on Planet, there would be no such requirement, and Yang could assume faction leadership directly.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: New Custom Faction: Wheeler Raiders
    « Reply #44 on: January 16, 2017, 07:11:04 AM »
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  • for the simple reason that he could not possibly sustain the charade of being royalty himself.

    I am not familiar with any particular Yang novelized backstory.  I will point out, per Game of Thrones, that "being royalty" can be an act of seizing power and executing the opposition.  The "charade" you speak of, is solved by killing anyone opposed to the charade, which is certainly something Yang would be willing to do.  As Chairman Mao was often willing to do before him.  Although, some like Deng Xiaoping did surivive Mao's attacks and eventually set the more Capitalist direction for the future of China.

     

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